Kayaking at the Refuge

Who knew there was so much fun just a few miles down the road….HAPNA folks, that’s who? Saturday, September 11 was a perfect day for a paddle and we took full advantage of it on the first HAPNA Paddle. Everyone in the neighborhood was invited to grab a kayak or canoe and hit the water.

At 9:00, pickups and jeeps loaded with colorful boats pulled out of the Atkins-Porter parking lot heading to Swayne Point on the nearby TN. National Wildlife Refuge.

The refuge, which has three separate units, contains more than 50,000 acres of diverse habitats that support an array of wildlife. Habitat types found on the refuge include rivers and streams, freshwater marshes, water impoundments, agricultural lands, bottomland hardwoods and oak-hickory forests. 

With lifejackets securely in place, we put in near the dock across the bay from the Visitor Center and V.L. Childs Overlook. First-timers got a few pointers on how to hold their paddle, how to stop, and how to slice through a wave from a motorboat. That was about it. Kayaking on flat water is really easy; it’s nothing like the fast and furious white water of SE Tennessee.

There are always some stunning birds at the refuge and on that morning the standouts were a great blue heron, some gulls, and a showy, white egret. We played around near the dock, and then paddled around the point. Some of us even bailed out for a swim or a little look around on the rocky shoreline.

One of the best things about group kayaking is the opportunity to float near another paddler for a visit. There was lots of that going on – swapping water tails, learning about new equipment or paddling destinations. In fact, I think we’ve just about got our next spot picked out for the spring HAPNA Paddle.

Stay tuned for more fun and adventure with your neighbors in the Historic Atkins-Porter Neighborhood Association!